Screw these homeless people. Well, that’s a quite inflammatory statement. That’s literally what has come to my mind on several occasions within the last couple of months. The first was months ago as I was yelled at by a homeless person in the middle of Friday afternoon five o’ clock traffic. The gentleman, and I use the term loosely, approached a woman who was directly in front of me at a stoplight. The woman kept her window rolled up seemingly not taking notice of him. The homeless man looked a little disgusted but in the end left her alone. He left, walking right in my direction. I knew I was next. I braced myself.
Typically, being the courteous person that I am, I will at least sadly shake my head at homeless people when they come to my window looking like lost dogs wanting a bone. This time I figured I could avoid even doing that if I, like the woman in front of me, just ignored him. I was just going to follow suit! Welp, obviously following in her footsteps wasn’t a successful move for me.
The man came over to my car, I saw him in my peripheral vision. He just stood there at my window for what seemed like forever. I kept my eyes straight forward. I even went in my purse to get my cell just so that I could distract myself with it. He watched my every move. We were far pass him waiting for me to notice him—and me pretending I didn’t see him. We both knew what was going on. We were both holding our ground. It was uncomfortable. I even contemplated breaking my frontward gaze and looking at him just so that he would leave me alone. I didn’t. I held out. So did he. I began to get nervous feeling like something major was taking place. I was defying the standard civilian/homeless person protocol. As I continued to sit there (light—still red)—I began to embrace this defiance. I felt liberated. Then he began yelling. Or at least that’s what I now recall—this recollection quite possible could be a delusion from the trauma of the situation. The homeless man finally walked to the back of my car (I honestly thought he was going to pull out a gun and shoot me) and then he walked to the other side of the street and continued to stare. The light finally turned green. I drove away---he remained on the side of the street. I questioned my choice for days to not look at him. I figured he deserved that bit of common decency.
As luck would strike---approximately an hour after this altercation my friend’s black berry messenger status read about an altercation with an ingrate homeless person. She had given this man five dollars---he was pissed she didn’t give him ten. I immediately called her up so that we could exchange “homeless man” stories. Yep, it was the same homeless man. Not an hour after he accosted me for not looking at him---he harasses my friend for giving him five dollars instead of ten. Huh? I was completely shocked, amused, and disgusted all at the same time.
I’m all for equal rights—yes, even for the rights of homeless people. I think that they, like myself, should have the opportunity to embrace this capitalistic society that we live in and profit form it. That being said if I can’t harass someone out here at my place of business neither can old buddy with the holey white tee. I am not making light of indigence in the United States. Actually it is something that has always poked at my heart strings. I once contemplated trying to find a homeless person to give some food that I was unable to eat. I say that to say---I am not a heartless bitch. I am just disgusted with how it has almost become commonplace for these homeless people to assume that if they stand out on the corner long enough people are just going to give them money for free. Prostitutes sell sex---and they still have slow nights. I am sure they aren’t getting mad at every john who comes along that doesn’t want their services. Instead, they may shorten the skirt a little, or get an implant or two. They do something to make themselves more desirable for their customers. Now, homeless people on the other hand are a new breed of bold. I am giving you something for nothing and you (homeless person) want to get mad because that transaction doesn’t set well with me. Yeah, ok.
Even more unsettling than the homeless mentality—because in actuality we could just chalk that up to their hustle, is the mentality of the people who have homes and cars. We, in some way feel like we owe something to people that are less fortunate. Owe it. I later thought about myself feeling bad for not engaging this random man who came up to my car in the middle of the street. In some way does his homelessness make him less of a stranger? Less of a threat? No. I don’t make a practice of just talking to random strangers on the street. That’s dangerous. So, then how would it be less dangerous for me to talk to him. And back to him---as a man how could he not understand and respect my safety precautions. And moreover, how can he (as a man) stoop to the level of screaming at me—a woman—for not giving him—a man---money. Worst than me though, is my friend. She gave this man money, and I’m not talking about a dollar. She gave him more than you give your own child for lunch money. Yet, she was asking me if she should feel bad that she didn’t give him more. She had officially been guilted by a man she didn’t even know.
This is something that I think has gotten so out of hand. Again, two weeks ago I was reminded how much so, as a woman sitting next to me (at the same light where I was terrorized) was approached by her very own homeless man. I watched her as she, like I have done so many times, shook her head vigorously, mouthing “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She was trying so hard to convince him of her true regret. I’m sure she really was sorry. Well, more than her being sorry for him---I’m sorry for her. I’m sorry that she, like most people I know, have let these people that we don’t even know guilt us.
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